Pensacon 2020 - A Consistent Top Star Wars Autographing Con in the US
Pensacon is always a great time, and year after year they host some fantastic Star Wars names across every aspect of the universe. Traditionally most conventions bring in the folks with well known characters or at least a visible role in the movies. Not Pensacon, they love to bring in the behind the scenes folks and this year was a fantastic collection of guests that contributed to Jabba’s Palace.
Mark Dodson (Salacious Crumb Voice)
Michael McCormick (Ephont Man, Salacious Crumb, Sy Snootles)
Jez Gibson-Harris (Parts of Jabba)
Deep Roy (Droopy McCool)
Kirk Thatcher (Multiple Creatures)
Simon Williamson (Max Reebo, Gamorrean Guard)
Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna) - He Did Cancel last minute
If that group of guests wasn’t enough to get you excited to go, they also had some other OT/Sequel names:
Denis Lawson (Wedge)
David Ankrum (Wedge voice ANH)
Angus MacInnis (Gold Leader)
Kevin Thompson (Ewok)
Brian Herring (BB8)
What is really awesome is that kind of Star Wars guest list is normal year after year here in Pensacola. In previous years we have seen other large names like Peter Mayhew, Dave Prowse, Billy Dee Williams, Sam Witwer, and much more! One of the things I enjoy at Pensacon autographing wise is if you go Friday, or Sunday it isn’t typically to busy. That creates a wonderful chance to chat with the guests for an extended amount of time with no line behind you. I was able to spend over ten minutes chatting with Michael McCormick about his time working on creatures for Return of the Jedi. He said that since Ephont was so large and boring he wanted to create some kind of prop to sit with him. He went to Tony McVey, who then created/sculpted Salacious Crumb, then creature was born. But when Phil Tippet saw him on Ephont, Phil decided to move him over to Jabba instead. At some of those larger cons, not only would you not have time for stories like that but they don’t always bring these small guests in. For Star Wars autograph collecting Pensacon simply brings it every year and is a must attend. Especially for the uniqueness of the convention itself outside of the guest list.
Here in Pensacola we don’t have a typical convention center, it is a hockey arena that holds up to 10,000 people on a non-hockey event day. But Pensacon brings in 25,000+ fans year after year! How do they handle that kind of foot traffic? Well they utilize the entirety of downtown Pensacola for convention related activities. There are multiple theaters downtown that host the panels, cosplay competition, and other activities. The local beach trolley service is brought in to shuttle fans from one location to another, or if you're up for the mileish walk then enjoy the city on your way to the panels. After you get out of the panel then your smack dab downtown surrounded by plenty of local restaurants, bars, and shops to look at, or you can jump right back into another panel. There truly is nothing like Pensacon in the way it is set up and must be experienced by any con goer at least once.
This year I was able to pop into a couple panels and truly enjoyed every minute of them. Weird Al Yanckovic, Ewoks: Battle for Endor, and the Star Wars Q&A panels were fun, funny, and informative. At the Ewoks panel, Kirk Thatcher had to come out and buy time because everyone was running late. He started telling stories about his time on set as the “Ewok Wrangler”. With 30-40 ewoks on set at a time he had his hands full getting them in and out of costume, as well as tending to other needs. Then he threw out a story about the time after filming he took them all to a bar. The sight of 30 little people and Kirk Thatcher walking into a bar is just to funny. One cool tidbit I learned from the Star Wars panel was from Brian Herring about his time filming the sequels. Someone asked him a question about taking props home after filming, and he said that Disney GPS chipped all the weapons so actors couldn’t take them. They also took drivers licenses from people who handled props so if something didn’t get returned they knew exactly who had it.
I could write all day about how fun the panels and graphing is at Pensacon but the only thing to do would be experience it next year for yourself. They have already announced the days for February 26-28 and some guests! A Back to the Future reunion is being assembled. We are sure to get guests announced month after month leading into the con, including many great Star Wars signers! Hope to see many of you here next year for a Pensacon SWAU meetup!